You can access this presentation online at Slideshare: Pre-workshop checklist Transfer ppt file to hard disc. Transfer image folder & screen videos to hard disc. Play through presentation on host computer. Fire up browser & ensure Prezi (log in) & Cool Iris are functioning properly. Distribute session handout booklets. Post workshop Distribute PP presentation handout with notes.
Perhaps the most devastating critique of Powerpoint’s use comes from Edward Tufte (2003). In a highly critical essay he claimed that there was evidence that, compared to other common presentation tools, PowerPoint significantly reduces the analytical quality of serious presentations of evidence; that it corrupts statistical reasoning and that it often weakens verbal and spatial thinking. He lambasted it for its ‘Stalinist’ control of slide design which, often as not, results in a hierarchical bulleted list of phrases. The bulleted list is an impoverished way of communicating, he argued, and he illustrated his results with some examples (e.g. Norvig, 1999) where the inappropriate use of a slideshow led to poor communication. Tufte, E (2003) The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. Pitching Out Corrupts Within . Cheshire, Con: Graphics Press LLC Norvig, P (1999) The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation , http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/
John Sweller (Oates, 2007), claims that PowerPoint presentations make learning more difficult. Sweller maintains that displaying text on a screen, whilst a teacher is lecturing, makes excessive cognitive demands on students. “The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster . . . it should be ditched,” he announced. Tufte and Sweller’s arguments have generated a vigorous debate and a number of contrasting claims and counter-claims have been made about the use of presentation software. Oates, J (2007) “Official: Powerpoint Bad for Brains. Menace of Slideware”, The Register http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/04/powerpoint_bad/
Alley proposes that an effective way of designing slides is to: Place a sentence-assertion at the top of the slide. Then below it comes the evidence to support the assertion – but in visual form. Alley makes three key assumptions for using this structure: Slides are an appropriate visual aid for presentations. The success of a presentation hangs on the audience being able to understand the content of the slides. The primary purpose of the slides is to help the audience understand the content rather than to provide talking points for the speaker. Alley, M (2003) The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid , NY: Springer-Verlag
Donald Norman, on the other hand, defends the use of PowerPoint. He maintains that it is an excellent tool and one can’t blame the tool if it’s used badly. He proposes a model of use akin to the way audio-visual aids were traditionally used in lectures. According to Norman, a presentation – or talk – should use three resources: Speaker’s notes on paper or cards. These contain brief points to guide the speaker. Visuals which are displayed using PowerPoint. A handout for the audience which contains references and suggestions to follow up the ideas discussed. Norman, D (2004) In Defense of PowerPoint , http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/in_defense_of_p.html
Adams argues that PowerPoint is a tool and as such it favours specific kinds of communication. Like every tool PowerPoint is an ‘evocative object’ and invites its users to employ it in particular ways. So what are these particular ways and what are the outcomes? The outcomes are bulleted lists because PowerPoint ‘exerts invisible lines of force on the choices teachers make’. Why is this so? Well, much of it is down to the software designers who wanted to make PowerPoint easy to learn and use. To support beginners, the designers added several features which make it simple to create a slideshow, e.g. the auto-content wizard which allows a presentation to be created by filling in blanks; the pervasive prompts such as, ‘Click to Add Title’ which automate the slideshow structure and slide design; the provision of colourful templates which automate slide design. The upshot of these – sometimes intrusive - support devices is a slideshow which consists largely or entirely of bulleted lists. Adams, C (2006) “PowerPoint, habits of mind, and classroom culture”, Journal of Curriculum Studies 38, 4: 389 - 411
Garr Reynolds is an influential designer and speaker on the subject of PowerPoint. He suggests that the aim of PowerPoint is to enhance what the speaker is saying. He argues that images can play an important role in supporting learning – or in generating an emotional response. His slides are designed in the style of a billboard, i.e. the use of graphics with a strong visual impact and only a small amount of text. Reynolds, G (2008) Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery , New Riders Press
In a recent review of the literature, Levasseur & Sawyer found that students liked PowerPoint to be used in lectures. They cited several reasons for this – among them, it helped with note-taking and it assisted some lecturers organise their material better. My own experience confirms that students do indeed expect PowerPoint presentations and further – they ask for them to be uploaded to Studyzone. However, the value of these uploaded presentations is questionable, since many contain only information in outline detail. Anyone absent from a lecture would be unlikely to gain much from reading the lecture PowerPoint. This highlights a problem when designing PowerPoint presentations. Are they designed for use in a lecture OR for uploading on to the web? A presentation given during a lecture should contain little text since information is best communicated through the accompanying verbal gloss. A presentation for the web however, would have more value if there was more text on each slide since the verbal gloss is absent. Should lecturers therefore design two versions? One for the lecture and a different one for the web? Interestingly, the authors could find no credible evidence that learning outcomes improved as a result of using PowerPoint per se . Levasseur, D. & Sawyer, J (2006) “Pedagogy Meets PowerPoint: A Research Review of the Effects of Computer-Generated Slides in the Classroom.” The Review of Communication , 6:1- 2, 101- 123.
Take responses from the audience. Indicate the direction the workshop will take over the next 20 minutes, i.e. Combating linearity Encouraging engagement Resisting addiction
PowerPoint uses a slideshow metaphor with each slide is displayed in sequence. It is argued by some that this linear structure can encourage a linear-style pedagogy. Certainly, the sequential structure of the ‘typical’ slideshow can make it awkward for tutor to change direction in response to questions raised in a lecture. Unless that is, the structure is made more flexible in some way.
Possible solutions to overcoming linearity PowerPoint’s hyper-linking feature can allow a tutor to navigate the presentation more flexibly. pptPlex (http://www.officelabs.com/#pptplex) from Microsoft labs allows a tutor to group slides into sections and to zoom in and out of a presentation. This makes it easy to locate a specific slide. An alternative to PowerPoint is Prezi (www.prezi.com). This program uses a ‘large canvas’ metaphor combined with flexible zoom features. It is easy to learn and (at the time of writing) free. If PowerPoint slides are exported as individual images, then Cool Iris (www.cooliris.com) can be used to display them as a ‘wall gallery’. This provides fast and simple access to any slide.
Some teachers claim that using PowerPoint in lectures induces passivity in their students. If students are engaged less, then both learning and teaching are likely to be affected.
Staff at the University Of Minnesota have identified a number of weaknesses in how tutors are using PowerPoint in lectures. They have published a range of materials on the effective use of PowerPoint for teaching and learning, e.g. UoM (2008) Active Learning with PowerPoint, http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/powerpoint/index.html
Many presentations comprise slides made up of bulleted lists. So what’s wrong with bulleted lists? Plenty, according to Adams. Every subject domain has developed its own ways of representing the information it needs to convey understanding. The bulleted list is an impoverished substitute for native knowledge forms and PowerPoint’s hegemony is ‘rendering obsolete valuable, perhaps critical knowledge forms’. Teachers need to act vigorously against PowerPoint’s ‘soft determinism’ and design their own slides that go beyond the bulleted list. Adams, C (2006) “PowerPoint, habits of mind, and classroom culture”, Journal of Curriculum Studies 38, 4: 389 - 411
My experience – like some other writers - is that one can slip quite subtly into the frequent use of using PowerPoint. Lodge, J (2008) Lecturing and a PowerPoint-centric Culture , http://teachwithpower.blogspot.com/2008/12/lecturing-and-powerpoint-centric.html
Once a presentation is prepared it is easy to archive, update and distribute. Does it make teachers reluctant to move away from? Does it breed uniformity, e.g. When an ‘agreed’ PowerPoint is distributed around a departmental team?
Teaching Effectively with Presentation Technology Reflecting on Current Practice and Engaging with New Developments Roehampton University, London John Lodge & Lawry Price
Effective presentations Take a moment to reflect on your experience of presentations. What makes for an effective presentation? Record your thoughts on the handout.